2 Weeks of MLS games: 2 Sentences and 1 Big Question
(Photo: Andy Witchger/Wikimedia Commons)
by Chris Ashley
The 2020 Major League Soccer season is now underway, and we've been given the first glimpses of what this season could become. So what better way to break down the first two weeks than by giving you a two-sentence review (and one big question) for each of the 26 teams? You would think I would have learned my lesson after my 10,000 word preseason manifesto, but here we are. Let's go.
Atl*nta United (2-0-0, 1st in Eastern Conference)
On top of fighting injuries and absences early in the season, Josef Martinez tore his ACL in the very first match. Despite that, Atl*nta is the only team with two wins in the Eastern Conference, even if they were against some of the poorer teams in the league.
BIG QUESTION: How have expectations changed with the loss of the team’s biggest star?
Chicago Fire (0-1-1, T-7th in Eastern Conference)
It took late match heroics from Jordan Morris for the defending champion Sounders to get a win against the Fire at home. They also split points with a very average New England team in a match where the Fire appeared to be the better side.
BIG QUESTION: Does this team have enough firepower (pun intended) to score goals this season?
FC Cincinnati (0-2-0, 11th in Eastern Conference)
Despite failing to earn a point in the first two matches, Cincinnati has looked improved already this season. They clawed back into both of their matches after falling down 2-0, and that at least shows interest in playing the matches this year, something I’m not sure was true in their inaugural season.
BIG QUESTION: What can they do to shore up their backline and stop from going down early in matches?
Colorado Rapids (2-0-0, 3rd in Western Conference)
To the shock of many, myself not included, Colorado are one of four perfect teams in the league. Their four goals have come from four different players, showing the versatility of their attack in 2020.
BIG QUESTION: In what will be a very tough Western Conference, can Colorado continue to compete with the top tier sides?
Columbus Crew (1-0-1, 5th in Eastern Conference)
On one hand, this team struggled to get a 1-0 win over New York City at home despite being up a man for nearly the entire match. On the other hand, they were able to secure a draw against the defending champs on the road after the coronavirus disrupted their travel plans.
BIG QUESTION: Will the offensive weapons on this team click together to score consistently?
FC Dallas (1-0-1, 4th in Western Conference)
Week one was a demonstrative victory over a pretty good Philadelphia team. Week two was a gritty, come-from-behind performance to earn a point against a very good Montreal team.
BIG QUESTION: How will this team perform when they leave the cozy confines of Frisco?
DC United (1-1-0, 6th in Eastern Conference)
Early on, it's almost as if we should have been concerned about players playing out of position for this DC team. Please get Gressel the hell out of the central midfield; that man belongs on the wing!
BIG QUESTION: What is the right lineup for this team to be able to meet their potential?
Houston Dynamo (0-1-1, 12th in Western Conference)
The good - you picked up a point at home in front of a sold-out crowd there to see Chicharito. The bad - you then went on the road and got your teeth absolutely kicked in by Kansas City.
BIG QUESTION: Why did Tab Ramos’s first MLS gig have to be fixing this dumpster fire?
LAFC (1-0-1, 5th in Western Conference)
A not terribly convincing win over an expansion team in their first match was followed by a not terribly convincing draw over a middle-of-the-road Eastern Conference team; both matches at home. Still, Carlos Vela is some sort of cheat code.
BIG QUESTION: Is LAFC’s dynasty over before it started? (I’m kidding, but there are some concerning signs of taking a step back with this team early on.)
LA Galaxy (0-1-1, 10th in Western Conference)
Hello? Is anybody there?
BIG QUESTION: You lost to the WHITECAPS?
Inter Miami (0-2-0, 12th in Eastern Conference)
Miami has lost their first two matches and not looked particularly compelling in either. The good news is they have the LA Galaxy coming to Miami, nay, their temporary Fort Lauderdale stadium in week three.
BIG QUESTION: How big of a party and spectacle is this home opener going to be?
Minnesota United (2-0-0, 2nd in Western Conference)
Minnesota have had multi-goal wins in their first two matches over teams that had high expectations coming into 2020 in Portland and San Jose. They have three players with two goals in two matches: Forward Luis Amarilla, Midfielder Kevin Molino, and Defender Ike Opara.
BIG QUESTION: Based on what we’ve seen so far, is Minnesota the best team in the league?
Montreal Impact (1-0-1, T-2nd in Eastern Conference)
Maxi Urruti is having a resurgence in Montreal and is leading the golden boot race after two weeks. Also, maybe Thierry Henry is going to be a better manager than I thought.
BIG QUESTION: Can this team really compete with the favorites in the Eastern Conference?
Nashville SC (0-2-0, 13th in Western Conference)
Yes, they have lost their first two matches, against very good teams in Atl*nta and on the road in Portland. However, Nashville has actually looked not so expansion-y which bodes well for their future.
BIG QUESTION: Was that Johnny Cash tifo the best “first tifo” any MLS team’s fans have ever produced?
New England Revolution (0-1-1, T-7th in Eastern Conference)
We seem to have traded in late 2019 Bruce Arena for late 2017 Bruce Arena. This Revolution side has looked uninspired to say the least.
BIG QUESTION: What happened to this team in the offseason and can we get them to come back?
New York City FC (0-2-0, 13th in Eastern Conference)
Two road losses against two good teams in the midst of CONCACAF Champions League is not the end of the world. But I am a rational fan who does not live in New York City.
BIG QUESTION: Would beating Tigres (tonight) and getting to the CCL semi-finals heal the early season worries?
New York Red Bulls (1-0-1, T-2nd in Eastern Conference)
They fought off a comeback from Cincinnati and split points after a stoppage time equalizer from Salt Lake. But don’t be fooled: This team is not very good.
BIG QUESTION: How long can they tread water in the Eastern Conference before they make some big changes?
Orlando City (0-1-1, 9th in Eastern Conference)
This team desperately needs Nani and Dwyer back. They are good defensively, but they need to be able to score goals.
BIG QUESTION: Who is the better MLS team in Florida right now?
Philadelphia Union (0-1-1, 10th in Eastern Conference)
The Union followed up a disappointing road loss to Dallas by picking up an exciting road draw against LAFC. This team has talent, but they are really missing Medunjanin right about now.
BIG QUESTION: What is the ceiling for this team at this point?
Portland Timbers (1-1-0, T-7th in Western Conference)
The Timbers look like they have taken a step back. Sure, they managed to get a win at home against Nashville, but this team isn’t as fun to watch as they used to be.
BIG QUESTION: Will this older group of players run out of gas this season?
Real Salt Lake (0-0-2, 9th in Western Conference)
Two draws in two matches seems perfectly fitting for this Salt Lake team. They are as tepid an MLS side as there is.
BIG QUESTION: Where is this team going?
San Jose Earthquakes (0-1-1, 11th in Western Conference)
For a team that entered the year with high expectations, San Jose has to be disappointed only picking up one point in two home matches. Getting fivehung on them by Minnesota only served to add extra sting to that gut punch.
BIG QUESTION: What adjustments can Matias Almeyda make to get this team back into their peak 2019 form?
Seattle Sounders (1-0-1, 6th in Western Conference)
It took Jordan Morris putting the team on his back in week one to get a Sounders victory. It took a new emphasis on keepers staying on their line during penalties for Seattle to split points in week two.
BIG QUESTION: Is Seattle broken or just really missing Nico Lodeiro?
Sporting Kansas City (2-0-0, 1st in Western Conference)
Not to brag, but someone (yours truly) said that SKC was going to be very good this year. Sure it’s been against inferior teams but, “They are who (I) thought they were!”
BIG QUESTION: Did Peter Vermes give us the MLS gif of the year in week one?
Toronto FC (1-0-1, 4th in Eastern Conference)
Late game heroics from San Jose caused them to split points on the road in week one. Late game heroics in week two let them pick up all three points at home against NYC.
BIG QUESTION: Is Alejandro Pozuelo the new Sebastian Giovinco?
Vancouver Whitecaps (1-1-0, T-7th in Western Conference)
Congrats Vancouver, you beat the Galaxy. Your season may have peaked too early.
BIG QUESTION: Is this team going to be worse than 2019 Cincinnati?
Each team is just two matches into the season with 32 left on the board. There is still plenty we do not know in a league with as much parity as MLS, but judging by the first two weekends and all the bangers we've seen scored already this year, the 25th season is shaping up to be one of the best yet. Thanks for following along with us!